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Weber v. Weber

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

August 11, 2017

BETH ANNE F. WEBER
v.
MARK D. WEBER
v.
MICHAEL WEBER Appellant

         Appeal from the Order Entered August 8, 2016 in the Court of Common Pleas of Crawford County Civil Division at No(s): 1999-1298

          BEFORE: OLSON, STABILE, and STRASSBURGER, [*] JJ.

          OPINION

          STRASSBURGER, J.:

         Michael Weber (Son) appeals from the trial court's August 8, 2016 order, dismissing his petition for special relief. Upon review, we vacate the trial court's order and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         Beth Anne F. Weber (Wife) and Mark D. Weber (Husband), were once married, and are the parents of two children, Son, born June 1988 and a daughter, Amanda D. Weber, born November 1994 (collectively, Children). Prior to the parties' divorce, Husband and Wife entered into a comprehensive marital settlement agreement. See Memorandum of Agreement as to Divorce, 11/10/1999. Pertinent to this appeal, the agreement contained, inter alia, the following provision:

18. POST SECONDARY EDUCATION: Parents shall share equally the reasonable costs of an appropriate undergraduate college or other post-secondary education for [Children]. Husband shall notify Wife in writing 30 days in advance before entering into any transaction in regard to investments given to the [Children] by their paternal grandfather including Chevron Stock and the account with National City. All income including but not limited to interest, dividends[, ] and splits shall be reinvested in [Children's] names. Should any action taken by Husband without Wife's written consent in regard to these investments result in a diminution of their value, Husband shall be solely obligated to pay such amounts toward the post-secondary educations of [Children] before the calculation of the parties' equal share of expenses.

Id. at 4. A divorce decree was entered on March 23, 2000.

         On November 19, 2007, Wife filed a petition for special relief seeking, inter alia, enforcement of the above-mentioned paragraph. While this petition was pending before the trial court, Son filed a petition seeking to "intervene in the above captioned matter."[1], [2] Petition to Intervene, 4/30/2008, at 1 (unnumbered). That same day, the trial court issued an order which granted Son's petition and permitted him "to intervene and join in this action as a plaintiff." See Order of Court, 4/30/2008 (emphasis added).

         Following Son's intervention in the matter, a motion for voluntary non-suit was filed by Wife, in which all parties "agreed to the withdrawal at this time of the [p]etition before the [trial c]ourt[.]" Motion for Voluntary NonSuit, 7/9/2008. The motion was granted by the trial court that same day.

         No other filings occurred until April 1, 2016, when Son filed a petition for special relief, seeking to enforce paragraph 18 of the marital settlement agreement. Husband filed an answer and new matter, denying responsibility for Son's post-secondary education expenses and raising affirmative defenses. Husband's Answer and New Matter, 5/26/2016. Argument was held on July 21, 2016, and on August 8, 2016, the trial court filed a memorandum and order dismissing Son's petition, finding Son lacked standing to proceed in the matter.

         Son filed a motion for reconsideration, which was denied, and this timely-filed appeal followed.[3] On appeal, Son raises the following issues for our consideration, which we have reordered for ease of disposition.

I. Whether the trial court erred by raising the issue of [Son's] standing sua sponte, without affording the parties an opportunity to present written or oral argument on the issue?
II. Whether the trial court erred in concluding that [Son, ] who was permitted to intervene by Order of [the trial court] dated April 30, 2008, lacked standing under the Divorce Code to pursue his petition for special relief to enforce [the] marital settlement agreement?

Son's Brief at 4 (suggested answers and unnecessary ...


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